Friendster was a social gaming site and can be considered the first prototype of social networking sites as we know them. It was widely popular in the Asian region and boasted about 115 million registered users in 2011. Through the platform, users could take part in online games, send messages, write comments, post media and share content with other users publicly or privately. It was also used for dating, discovering new events and joining new hobbyist circles.
Friendster seemed like a fun place to hang out, with all the right bells and whistles to lead the way, what went wrong, then?
Friendster did two things particularly well: it offered social gaming and it gave users reasons to keep coming back to its platform. What it seemed to have missed creating, instead, was an actual social network. If one had to point out a major point that made Facebook soar, and that Friendster and other similar sites didn’t catch up with, was the presence and the emphasis put on the social news feed feature.
Gaming is fun, but only until a certain point, while social interactions - of any kind, really - are always sought after by people. By making the news feed the central part of its platform, Facebook ensured that people always had new things to interact with that somehow was still connected to them or their circle of friends. It offered a never-ending stream of new posts and pictures to like or comment on and it shifted away from the previous focus which was to curate and polish one’s own profile, which was exactly still one of Friendster’s focus. User use and registration declined and the company struggled to regain influence and shut down.